1. SaaS METRIC OF THE WEEK: PQL vs Activations. In my mind, the try-before-you-buy approach to software subscriptions is the best way to get to my money - that is pretty much what PLG is - so put away your SQL and MQL metrics for a second and focus on their newer cousin: PQL (Product Qualified Leads) - this tracks potential customer who has exhibited buying intent based on product interest and usage. Now you know that - measuring PQL vs. Activations are the two metrics to measure in unison.
2. BURN MULTIPLES: Operators must balance growth and efficiency in this new SaaS environment. So it's time to brush up on those efficiency metrics in this 2 part post covering Burn Multiple and Sales Efficiency metrics. A Burn Multiple measures how much a startup is burning to generate each incremental dollar of ARR. The higher the Burn Multiple, the more the startup is burning to achieve each unit of growth. Here is how to calculate this metric, and here is an example.
3. VENTURE: Uh-oh. The Carta State of Private Markets report is out for Q2 2023, and 20% of all the VC deals were down rounds. But on the upside, venture overall is up 26% from the last Q due to the number of later stage deals (B Onwards) - but we're still down 58% year on year.
4. CAPITAL: This is a great deep dive on the state of fundraising for H2 2023 that covers all things early stage (Series B and prior) from Peter Specht of Creandum Partner. Volume is way down, especially in the Series A and B Space; AI companies are the dominant outliers of rounds, growth expectations, and burn expectations.
5. PRICING: This is an excellent report from Vendr: The SaaS Trends Report for Q2 2023 (b2b only). You can compare quarters from Q1 2020 to now, and a remarkable drop off in ACV happened last Q. It may be buyers prioritizing efficiency (I know that's certainly my MO right now) - it could also be an anomaly. I will check in again next Q. It Also has a great chart by SaaS Category and top products by ACV - check out Snowflake, Netsuite, and Salesforce - all with $160k + ACV.
6. MICROSERVICES: Microservices have become the application deployment method du jour for quite some time now due to scalability and agility. But those old-school monolith apps also have value. Case in point - the Amazon Prime Video team recently shifted from microservices to a monolith and reduced costs by 90%. The choice is case by case, though, Microservices can get crazy complex, and Monoliths simplify deployment but often lack scalability. So a blended approach makes sense, where core functions remain monolithic, and other components can go microservices.
7. PRODUCTS: Balancing the needs of existing vs. new customers is a complicated product act to balance, and that push and pull are nicely described in this article with some great analogies and tips on influencing the product roadmap.
8. ONBOARDING (Remote): Fun fact - I've only ever met 3 of my team IRL; everyone else is remote, overseas, and in a different time zone. Successful onboarding is tricky, so check this complete guide to remote employee training. For some solid examples, this is how Zapier do it (and leverages their own product to use automation to do it), and here are some lessons learned from Slack.
9. M&A: Navigating some kind of acquisition process is a relatively unexplored topic in this newsletter, so check this guide to running an M&A process as a Founder from First Round Review.
10. CASE STUDY: Typeform - you have experienced and/or created at least one of their forms and surveys, and they have been around the block for quite some time, especially in PLG terms. Founded in 2012, Typeform reached $70 million ARR in 2021, serving over 125,000 paying customers, and continues to innovate with AI-powered tools and a focus on user experience.
POD OF THE WEEK: A follow-up on #4 (and #3) above - the video presentation version covering raising capital in H2 2023.